About Us

Our Mission: Providing Ongoing Education and Prevention

Kids on the Block’s mission is to provide ongoing education and prevention through puppetry for children and the community at large. The core message in each program is to teach children acceptance of differences in themselves and in others.

The troupe uses life size puppets and performs 15 topics in the style of Bunraku puppetry. The puppeteers travel the state performing in schools, boys and girls clubs, and other community centers.  In 2022, 35,279 children in 45 Kentucky counties viewed 368 programs. The puppets bring children to a teachable moment by reflecting their hopes, fears, likes, and dislikes.

Other initiatives include owning and operating The Higgins Center for Nonprofits, free kids runs, and a youth board for elementary aged children.

Our History

Kids on the Block History

In 1977, special education teacher Barbara Aiello had a student, Anthony, with cerebral palsy who used a wheelchair. Anthony was bright, and Barbara felt that he was ready to be mainstreamed into a “regular” classroom. A few days later, Anthony told her he didn’t want to go back to that classroom because children ignored him, made fun of him and didn’t want to play with him.

While Anthony was academically prepared, teachers or children in the “regular” classroom weren’t prepared for Anthony. So, Barbara made a puppet with Anthony’s likeness, including his red hair and constructed a wheelchair out of garden hose and bicycle tires. Using the puppet, Barbara explained to his class why he looked different, talked differently and used a wheelchair. Kids on the Block was born the moment children began to raise their hands to ask the puppet character questions. When a hand was raised, a barrier came down. 

From there, Anthony’s puppet grew to a family of puppet characters and programs designed to help children understand and cope with sensitive issues.

Coming to Kentucky

Kentucky Kids on the Block was founded in 1985 by Jamie Gaddie Higgins and Alice Kummer. Jamie took her daughter, Heather, to a Spina Bifida Association Christmas party. Nashville Kids on the Block performed their “Accepting Differences” program. Heather, who has spina bifida, reacted in such a positive way, her mother reached out to her friend, Alice, about starting their own puppet troupe in Bowling Green.

The puppetry used by Kentucky Kids on the Block is based on a Japanese style of puppetry called Bunraku. Bunraku puppetry, using life sized puppets, is used to bring children to the teachable moment. Each year, Kentucky Kids on the Block presents 300 programs to approximately 30,000 children in 20 Kentucky counties. The programs blend humor with sensitivity to help children develop an attitude of understanding and acceptance toward others that will serve them the rest of their lives. Kids on the Block is housed in the Higgins Center for Nonprofits.

Our Team

Kids on the Block Staff

Ashley Reynolds


Amanda Guerra

Director of Programs / Lead Puppeteer

Missi Carini

Grant Writer / Administrative Assistant

Regina Pedigo

Puppeteer /
Special Projects

Taryn Deckard

Programming and
Fundraising Intern

Board of Directors

  • Alan Cooper
    General Manager at WDNS/WLCT Radio
    Kentucky Kids on the Block Position: Treasurer
  • Sherri Emberton
    Accounting Controller
    Scotty’s Contracting and Stone
  • Kayla Fugate
    Staff Attorney at Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy
    Kentucky Kids on the Block Position: Past Chair
  • Adam Galloway
    Senior Vice President of Communication
    German American Bank
  • Laura Haley
    Advertising Account Executive
    WBKO Television
  • Michele Humphrey
    Branch Manager
    American Bank and Trust
  • Lauren Kummer
    High School Assistance Counselor
    Warren County Public Schools
  • Dotti Beth Lawrence
    Retired Realtor
  • Ashley Lillard
    Health Education Coordinator at Barren River District Health Department
    Kentucky Kids on the Block Position: Secretary
  • Max Marley
    Success Principles
  • Tracey Pharris
    Vice President/Business Banking Relationship Manager at PNC Bank
    Current Kentucky Kids on the Block Position: Chair
  • Angela Reeves
    Franchise Owner of Wild Eggs
    VIP Bowling Green Editor
  • Ashley Reynolds
    Executive Director
    Kentucky Kids on the Block
  • Mary Vitale
    New Millennium Real Estate, LLC
  • Mckinze Willard
  • Barry Williams
    Communication Systems
  • David Witty
    Coldwell Banker Legacy Real Estate Group
  • Shanda Yates
    Mortgage Loan Originator
    South Central Bank


Shelly Compton
Partner at Carr, Riggs, and Ingram, CPAs

Johna Rodgers
Johna Rodgers Consulting, LLC

Heather Higgins-Jeffrey

Steve Sutton
President of Chase Bank

John Kelly
Kelly Family Foundation

Mary Vitale
Owner of New Millennium Real Estate, LLC

Alice Kummer
Kentucky Kids on the Block Co-founder

Julie Wedge
Wedge Family Foundation

Sandy Riley
Owner of Riley’s Bakery

Barry Williams
Owner of Communication Systems

County Representatives

Allen County:

Matt Pedigo:
BRADD (Barren River Area Development District) Community Project Development Specialist

Barren County:

Erin Hiles
Barren Inc

Jefferson County:

Julie Ann Rosing
Law Clerk at US District Court for Western District of Kentucky

Ashley Reynolds

Executive Director

“Passion is the difference between having a job or a career.” When Ashley Reynolds began her journey as the grant writer at Kids on the Block in 2013, she knew she had found her career. After being appointed Executive Director in 2014, she and the staff set a goal for a second troupe to be formed which would be primarily focused on child abuse prevention. That dream was realized when Kids on the Block received The Women’s Fund Impact Grant in 2019. Her favorite program is child abuse because she strongly believes the most immediate need facing our world is protecting children.

She loves being involved in the community and also serves as a Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, and teaches adult and kids yoga classes at the Warren County Public Library.

Ashley enjoys yoga, running, skiing, collecting antiques with her dad, going to concerts with her mom, and planning her next trip to the beach with her husband, sons, and two wild dogs.

Amanda Guerra

Director of Programs/Lead Puppeteer

I am a WKU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies. So I thought Kids on the Block would be a good fit for me. I started working at Kids on the Block as a puppeteer in June 2011. In 2014 I became the Director of Programs and Lead Puppeteer.

I enjoy presenting programs at schools because through puppetry I am able to bring children to a teachable moment that they don’t forget. The programs that I feel most passionate about teaching is the Child Abuse Prevention programs. These programs not only teach children about child abuse but also teach children how to get out of abusive situations.

The programs that I have the most fun presenting are the Accepting Differences (Campers program), Problem Solving, and Divorce programs. (Who am I kidding, they are all fun!) When I am not working I enjoy outdoors activities such as gardening, hiking and kayaking with my husband, daughter and our dog.

Missi Carini

Grant Writer / Administrative Assistant

I am a Towson State University graduate with a bachelor’s of Science in Art and a Master’s of Science in Education from Western Kentucky University. I have been an Art teacher for 37 years, 25 in Kentucky.

After my recent retirement, I was looking for a way to use my knowledge to still benefit children. Kids on the Block is a great opportunity. As a grant writer, I hope to help continue creating funding opportunities for this program.

When I’m not working I create my own art, visit my 4 boys and enjoy time with my husband. I also have 1 dog named Mumu who is a Shipoo.

Regina Pedigo

Puppeteer/Special Projects

I have lived in Bowling Green most of my life. I married my husband in 1996 and we had our daughter in 2000. I had always worked with kids and would play with puppets and change my voice for the different characters in the books I would read to them. Little did I know God was preparing me for something greater. I started working with Kids on the Block on March 1, 2007. My favorite KOB program is Child Abuse Prevention. The pain of being abused follows a child the rest of their life and if just one child learns they can say no or learns that it’s ok to tell, then it is worth all the time we put into it. When I’m not at work I am very involved with my church where I currently lead the music and choir. I love to hike, camp, cook and sing. I have 2 dogs, 1 cat and a ball python.

Taryn Deckard

Programming and Fundraising Intern

Hello! My name is Taryn. I grew up in Metcalfe County, Kentucky but I have been a Bowling Green resident for almost two years now as a WKU student! 
I had originally planned to become an English educator, but I am now majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in Non Profit. Thanks to some guidance from my professor, I made contact with Kids on the Block and knew I wanted to be a part of their family and the world of non-profit.
I love folk music, tennis, poetry, and  any comedy sketch show I can find! 

Becky Tuck


I am an RN who graduated from WKU in 1985.  After recently retiring from a 30-year career as an RN, I quickly decided I needed a part-time job fulfilling my desire to help people.  Enter Kids on the Block.  Getting a job as a puppeteer is far outside the box of how I imagined retirement.  But I am excited to be a part of this organization and the mission of making a difference in children’s lives.  Also, my grandson will be impressed that his Bebe is a puppeteer!  

I enjoy going to events and festivals where my husband plays music,  time with family and friends, and sitting on our screened porch.